Shooting Freethrows

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in How-to, Throwing | 1 comment

Basketball players practice free throws a lot – and they still miss.  I think centering is a lot like free throws – at first you miss a lot , then you get into a cycle of improving and relapsing.  Finally, you center effectively most of the time.  I say most of the time because I don’t always get my clay centered – usually this is due to bad wedging or dry clay.  But it happens.  For the beginning and intermediate potters, this can be very frustrating.  The key to success is perseverance.  I assure them they will get it with...

Read More

Recipe for Dessert Plates

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in How-to, Plates, Throwing | 0 comments

When I make a new pot (a new design or different form), I consider several things: Glazes (yes, this is a consideration from the beginning) Pot function Pot scale Foot, rim, and appendages Part of the design process is working out the logistics; and, taking notes makes it easier to keep track of those logistics.  In order to make pots efficiently, I need to know some basic stats (weight and size).  And, as I don’t remember details well, I keep the information corralled in a notebook.  For me, this one of the most important parts of developing/designing a pot.  For example, last year, when I made several dessert plates, I developed a ‘recipe’. First I started with the ending in mind.  I wanted a finished plate with a diameter of 6”; so I used the LidMaster calipers (set on the 12% shrinkage scale) to determine that I needed to throw the plate approximately 6 ¾” in diameter.  I weighed 3 balls of clay – 1.25 lb, 1.5 lb, and 1.75 lb.  After throwing each plate to the same dimensions, I found 1.5 lbs to be an appropriate amount of clay for a plate with a foot ring.   Then I edited my notes and I continue to use them as a reference. However, yesterday while I was making dessert plates according to my recipe, I realized I had too much clay to make the size plates I usually make.  I felt like the rims were too wide with 1.5 lbs.  So I reduced the clay by 2 ounces and all came out well. It is true that very soft (moist) or hard (dry) clay will affect your throwing efficiency.  But the larger factor is often throwing ability.  As throwing efficiency improves (i.e. you use the clay rather than leaving it in the bottom of the pot), pots will get larger.  So the large bowl that you used to make with 5 lbs, you can make with only 4 lbs.  This is a huge step in your development as a...

Read More

Pottery – There’s an App for that!

Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Pottery, Throwing | 0 comments

It is 7 in the morning and you are itching to get into the studio but it isn’t open for several hours.  Here is something to tide you over until you get to a wheel… Virtual...

Read More

Resources or Distractions

Posted by on Mar 10, 2011 in Teapot, Throwing, Uncategorized, Workshop | 0 comments

There are so many pottery resources.  It is a very generous community –workshops, books, blogs, YouTube Videos, Websites, Galleries, Open Studios, classes, guilds.  So much sharing.  One could get sucked into the vortex of reading/talking/learning about pottery and never do pottery. Julie and I attended a workshop with a woman who owned every tool available.  Her tool kit was AMAZING and worth a small fortune.  But, she didn’t make pots.  In the course of 5 days, she made 2 pots.  Sometimes you have to drop the pretense and engage with the clay because there is more benefit in doing all that you are merely planning to do. I learn a lot by looking at pots, taking workshops, and attending gallery shows.  But, I learn the most by engaging with the...

Read More

Intentional Pursuit

Posted by on Mar 4, 2011 in How-to, Teapot, Throwing, Uncategorized, Winter Blue, Workshop | 0 comments

“You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”       Grechin Rubin I exercise but I wish I liked to run.  I have tried to like it.  I got better at running for a while but I never developed a love for it.  Sometimes I say I don’t like something but the truth is I am afraid or uncomfortable.  But in the case of running, I really don’t like it. I have been contemplating this quote by G. Rubin.  The truth of it reverberates with me because it enlightens a reality that hasn’t been tangible for me.  I could spend a lot of time and energy trying to love running – or I could just accept that I tried it and don’t like it and move on to something more enjoyable such as Body Pump. I took a workshop with Gay Smith who said she developed her particular aesthetic by maximizing the time she spent with her favorite parts of the ceramic process.  Perhaps if I allow myself the indulgence of pursuing the aspects of the ceramic process that I love (throwing and trimming), I too will develop more distinctive...

Read More

Set and Match

Posted by on Feb 8, 2011 in Bowls, Dinnerware, How-to, Multiples, Orders, Plates, Pottery, Selling Pottery, Throwing, Tools | 0 comments

We finished a commissioned order of dinnerware which included 16 dinner plates, 12 salad plates, 12 bread plates, 12 cereal bowls, and 12 chili bowls.  So I wanted to review some things that we learned while making the dinnerware order. A successful set is uniform, stack wells, and relates to the other pieces in the series. In order to make uniform pieces, we developed a ‘recipe’ for each piece by identifying the critical measurements in each of the pots. For example – dinner plate: 5.5 lbs of clay Open to 10 inches wide Pull rim to 2 inches Round the rim with chamois Final plate height is 2 inches Trim external foot width to 7” Dry plates slowly with bats/boards to keep the rims from popping up For the bowls, we measured the clay, opened to an established diameter (inner diameter), pulled to maximum height, opened to final width (outer diameter), and trimmed to a specific foot width. We kept the recipes in the studio notebook.   Initially, we used the calipers to determine the critical measurements.  But after firing, we ‘tweaked’ the recipes. Starting with the same amount of clay and monitoring the critical measurements helped ensure uniformity.  Julie made a throwing gauge that really sped up production. The commission was for 12-16 pieces in each set, which proved to be the real challenge (once upon a time, making a set of 4 seemed challenging!).  In addition to all our measurements, we made extra pieces of each pot so we could assemble the best matched set.  Nonetheless, there were still variations – after all, the sets were handmade.  We did a survey of the dishware in our kitchens and realized that manufactured dishes have variations too.  Julie and I defined acceptable levels of variation for our sets.  And, I think we were successful because the dinnerware is uniform, stacks well, and makes sense...

Read More